Our narrator. A consummate vaudeville song and dance man and raconteur, whose theatrical offering is the story of one particularly eventful year in his past.
DID YA EVER HAVE ONE OF THOSE YEARS…?
ONE OF THOSE HEAD-SHAKIN’ YEARS…?
OF GIGGLES OR SHRIEKS
AND UP-AGAIN DOWN-AGAIN CHOICES…
WITH OR WITHOUT HEARIN’ VOICES…
A MESS OF SUCCESS,
OR AT TIMES JUST A MESS,
TO THE LULLABY OF GRINDIN’ GEARS…?
DID YA EVER HAVE ONE OF THOSE YEARS?
That year for me was the grand year of nineteen-hundred and twenty-nine. If I know my American history, I believe it was the year panic became respectable.
Herringbone as a child. A quiet, unassuming and relatively ordinary eight-year-old boy from humble Demopolis, Alabama.
THERE’S SO MANY THINGS I WANNA BE—
A FAMOUS WRITER,
AND WITH SO MANY THINGS I WANNA BE—
A RACE DRIVER,
A DEEP SEA DIVER,
I’VE GOT TOO MUCH TO DO
TO BE MAMA’S PRESIDENT, TOO…
George’s sweet, sensitive, and loving mother. She is the embodiment of “Southern womanhood” and good manners. George is her pride and joy.
Oh, you take my breath away, George! (An aside to Arthur:) He’s practicin’ his speech, Arthur. He could be President someday. (Calling) You could be President someday! Do you know that? Now, get dressed, sweetheart! We don’t wanna be late for Uncle Billy’s gift, do we?
George’s father. He is rougher around the edges than his devoted spouse and lacks her sensitivity and selflessness. As the head of the family during the Great Depression, he is poised to take advantage of any opportunity that could generate some cash.
Last night I was sittin’ contemplatin’ the sad and sorry state of this family, when suddenly I saw the fiery finger of the Lord…and it pointed to Uncle Billy‘s words I’d hung up there on the bathroom door…And all at once for the first time, I understood those worlds of Uncle Billy’s:’ “Culture Durin’ Hard Times Does Real Well.” And I listened as the Lord spake unto me…[singing] GOD SAID, “GO YE TO HOLLYWOOD.”
NATHAN “CHICKEN” MOSELY
One half of a once famous vaudeville team “The Chicken and The Frog”. With the onset of the Depression, Mosely is now relegated to adjudicating small-town speech contests at the local Lion’s Clubs and giving private acting classes to Demopolis’ semi-talented youth whose families can afford his fee.
He’s very good. I mean he could be very good…And if I may suggest that you cash in that Baby Bond and reinvest it in the boy in the form of professional actin’ lessons, I believe he may have a future…Come here, George. Child stars are doin’ real well on the talkies these days, Mr. Nookin. Now stand lookin’ at me!
LOU “THE FROG”
The thirty-seven-year-old mischievous spirit who supernaturally possesses young George’s body. Self-described as the “best midget hoofer in the business,” Lou’s career and life were prematurely cut short ten years earlier, and now he has returned to take the stage. He is an expert salesman and self-promoter who adroitly convinces people to go along with his plans.
The hospital, I tell ya, won’t do ya no good. But the palaces of America may. The beauty of them halls is callin’ for my appearance. Callin’ for your son. And it won’t take long. I promise ya. A few weeks on the road and money in your purse and a smile on the audience’s faces and the lift I needed and never got. But boy was I close. Please? Can we make an arrangement? They’ll never know I was there. Your son will be a smash and pockets will bulge and Demopolis will seem a bit different on your return. And, of course, I do all this in just six weeks. I guarantee it. Is it a deal?
Desk clerk at the La Rochelle Hotel and old-time lady-friend of Lou’s. It appears that she is not the sharpest tack in the box. Although she doesn’t recognize Lou in his current confounding packaging, she is easily susceptible to his advances.Oh, Lou—Lou—talk about your angel skin and your baby-fine hair, and that voice, that sweet—